Legalized gambling in Grenada is an old debate which has taken on many forms like horse racing, bingo, cards games and raffle; but a recent development and form like lotto and scratch have been in the forefront for several years since its adoption from the north America market, Canada and the USA.
It is without a doubt that legalized gambling has been an accepted norm in our society for decades. Nevertheless, it may not be the moral thing to promote or increase the scope of gambling activities in our religious environment by the introduction of ”casino gambling”. Gambling is a “problem”, not “fun”, not “entertainment”, and not a “hobby”. There is no such thing as “responsible gambling”. Gambling by its very nature is irresponsible; and if you are religious, it might also be sinful, because you are trying to take something that is not yours to take.
It can be argued that casino operation benefits the economy, but for every tax dollar that is made through casino gambling, just think of the inflated cost to the economy to the higher additional law enforcement, and to fund gambling treatment programmes. The cost of legalized gambling far outweighs the benefits of it. Gambling is addictive and leads to compulsive gambling problems and unhealthy obsessions; it promotes crime, sin, stupidity, laziness, arrogance, greed, selfishness, and the neglect of one’s own family among other horrible things. Gambling in general can be most accurately described as an economic and moral cancer in any society. So, what should Christians say about the expansion of gambling in Grenada? Some churches have long taken an unequivocal stance opposing gambling. For example, the united Methodist Church declares: “Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life and destructive of good government”. The Presbyterian Church has a long history of opposition to all forms of gambling as an abomination of stewardship. Many evangelical and fundamentalist churches also preach against gambling. The catechism of the Catholic Church instructs “Games of chance or wagering are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion or risk of becoming enslaved”.
The newly elected NNP administration through P.M. Mitchell has let it be known that a license for casino gambling is being given urgent consideration. A request for same was made reportedly to the outgoing NDC administration who in their deliberate judgment was not enthusiastic for whatever reason or reasons.
However, the body language, selection of words and the overflowing exuberance of Dr. Mitchell as he made the announcement, sends a clear and unequivocal message to the Grenadian public. The truth is, a positive decision has already been taken. Come storm or high water, a casino license will be granted to certain individuals or groups. And that is not all. The silver has already been minted and molded into thirty pieces during the pre- general elections period. Let us be reminded that Judas regretted his action and returned the silver, but it was too late “the damage had already been done. There are those politicians who are discovering that it is either too difficult or impossible to shed their old feathers – and will revert to their past behaviour of under-the-table exchanges, while making promises and giving certain positive assurances and undertakings. I refuse to accept that the memories of the Grenadian people are so short that they have already forgotten how deep down into the gutter the name and status of this dear land of ours had descended; how we came to be ashamed to divulge our true national identity to non- Grenadians.
Casino gambling was heartily debated nationwide and also on the George Grant show of May 2007, between Winston Whyte, then of Zublin and Bishop Clinton Lewis of the seventh day Adventist church and Mr. Azan Rahaman of the Islamic congregation. They debated the merits of the establishment of casino gambling in Grenada. Mr. Rahaman saw it as an abomination. Mr. Whyte alluded to locals being excluded for reasons of addiction and limited resources.